The Knit Knack's Blog

my handspinning, knitting, natural dye, weaving fibre home


Leave a comment

Handspun hello – big finishes

Fresh out of the blocking pins is my Lacymmetry shawl reveal.  It’s come through an antique flax wheel, madder dye bath, and knitting with 4 posts here on the Knit Knack, phew!

Handspun knitted lace asymmetrical triangle shawl Lacymmetry in BFL/silk yarn dyed with madder by irieknit

Lace selfie

Wireless headphones on during Ty’s ‘quiet time,’ and I was smiling along to Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn’s music.  More solid FO pictures may yet happen but this was a busy weekend and now we are getting our roof replaced.

Handspun asymmetrical triangle knitted lace Lacymmetry shawl in BFL/Silk madder dye by irieknit

Warm but light BFL/silk knitted lace shawl

The dots of shine in the larger lace holes (double yarnovers) are the gold 8/2 Miyuki beads that I mentioned in my post last month.  In this design they are on 1 side of the asymmetrical triangle.

While still pinning the wet shawl on my mats, Ty came in, approved & added, “… it’s just like a pizza slice!”  Kiddo sees negative space as pattern!

The beads are the cheese, and the big holes are the pepperoni.

Ty, age 7

Project is forever to be a.k.a. irieknit’s Handspun Lacymmetry aka Pizza Slice shawl.

Blocking handspun BFL/Silk knitted lace triangular Lacymmetry shawl madder dyed by irieknit

Creative licence says it’s a wearable pizza slice and who are we to argue?

In the last beading stitch, I used a ceramic starfish.  It is pink and sits to the upper left of this image.

Blocking finished handspun Lacymmetry BFL/Silk madder dyed shawl by irieknit

Wet blocked for length

It took around 1.5 hours to secure the wet shawl in this hard blocking.  The triangle type is different from the pattern sample for 2 reasons.  First, I ran out of yarn with more than the recommended stitches remaining to the left of my marker.  Those vertical stripes changed things.  Second, I blocked for depth and did not match the pattern’s schematic.

Blocked to this obtuse type of triangle my Lacymmetry is a similar width at 61″ and much deeper at 49.5″ compared to Naomi Parkhurst’s sample.  I used all of my yarn at around 646 yards.  The pattern sample uses less at 610 yards.

Detail of blocking beaded handspun knitted lace triangle Lacymmetry shawl by irieknit in madder dyed BFL/Silk

A shimmer of gold beads, why not?

Working with one-of-a-kind handspun also changed the ‘pepperoni’ side’s edge.  In the grips of yarn chicken, I did a basic cast-off.  It is straight and not scalloped as a result.

Handknit love: a handspun baby gift

A little over a half of the Mother of Dragons BFL yarn (mid-September 2018 TKK post in link) is for a bouncing baby boy cousin.

Handspun handknit Baby Surprise Jacket in Blue Faced Leicester yarn by irieknit

Stormborn Baby Surprise Jacket in handspun BFL

With 3.5 mm needles, I had 5 stitches per 1″ of garter.  It was a big decision to use this yarn.  Knitting a gift is a personal dicey affair for me the knitter with millspun let alone handspun yarn.

Back of handspun handknit Baby Surprise Jacket in BFL wool by irieknit

All of the ideas were good here. Handspinning win!

The subtle shift of the blues in Mandie’s colourway that I spun as a 3-ply yarn more than convinced me that this was a great use of my yarn.  The new parents of baby E are thrilled but maybe on less geeky grounds!

Knits mostly but also some handwoven for babies/ kids has spanned the last decade here.  Responses are all over the map, and I found there is nothing for it but to make them when prompted to make.  Four days of avid knitting, more to get a card + cute HBC mitts for these US-based folks, packaging, pictures together and all for a baby you wish dearly to outgrow the jacket.  It’s bananas!

When the parents weren’t really staying in your circle anyway (e.g. last December kid’s wool hat effort, sigh) the heart of it is that a little person has value added in the hands to use for that time of their childhood.  If not lost & preserved for the memory of it as well.  That’s the point.  You hope for more but know it’s fleeting at best.

Handspinning Zwartables wool top on Jenkins Lark Turkish-style spindle by irieknit

Zwartables wool gracing the Lark Turkish-style Jenkins spindle

Let go; make more!

 

 

 


2 Comments

Mid-winter morning and two types of lacework

Yesterday brought our 3rd winter storm in as many weeks.  It’s been a mess of snow days in already shorter school weeks that has knocked my craft life for six.

For several reasons Ty & I have needed time-off for more unstructured time together, however.  This boon has kept the cabin fever feeling from setting-in but I hope there are no other Colorado lows on the way!

Ice and snow on yew shrub after winter storm in Ontario by irieknit

Prettier than the car

The impact of 24-hour long winter storms hitting mid-week each week aside we are safe & warm through it all, so far.

Ice filling Easter Lily plant the morning after a 24-hour Colorado low winter storm by irieknit

Ice upon ice this morning

All-over lace shawl update

The Lacymmetry shawl only saw the inside of a project bag between early November and 3 Saturdays ago.

Knitting an all-over lace shawl in handspun Blue Faced Leicester Wool/Silk blend yarn handdyed in madder by irieknit

A growing Lacymmetry handspun shawl

The shawl transitions once 2/3 knitted to a ‘diamond’ lace motif that shows strongly with its double yarn-overs.  I paused at the transition point, and am now 7 repeats into this second, final section.

Starting at the 2nd of these repeats, I decided to add gold duracoated 8/2 Miyuki beads on a single return row in the ‘diamond’ lace motifs.

Unblocked and on knitting needles Blue Faced Leicester/Silk blend handspun yarn handdyed madder making all-over Lacymmetry triangular shawl by irieknit

Forming diamond lace with beads hidden

The designer is Naomi Parkhurst of String Geekery, and I love how she advances the diamond lace 3 times evenly in each ‘diamond’ lace repeat.  The beads are highlighting this diagonal advance sequence.  It’s fun to knit!

How I place these beads is with a 0.6 mm metal crochet hook.  My handspun BFL/silk yarn is gently thin to thick, and it can be slower to fit the beads.  They are getting on there with persistence so far… fingers crossed?

Working with this madder orange dyed yarn is also a push back to the dyepots… hopefully soon!

Another kind of lace update – weaving Swedish Lace sampler

Shortly after my last TKK post, I did wet finish the table loom Swedish lace sampler.  I am not quite done gasping but can share the results.

Handwoven Swedish lace sampler white cotton 8/2 warp with weft float checks in dark blue cotton 8/2 yarn by irieknit

Test of contrast weft in Swedish lace (weft floats)

This 1st section of the sampler is better than I expected while weaving.  That said, it is really much more appealing with white on the white warp.  They (every book & my workshop teacher) told me so!

Swedish lace weaving sampler white cotton unmercerized 8/2 yarn in weft floats

Okay, traditional, I see why now

The sampler was not finished schooling my(over-excited)self.  Oh no, it was not.

Weaving sampler for Swedish lace turned lace in contrast and white on white cotton 8/2 unmercerized weft by irieknit

Woah Swedish lace windows, and maybe never with contrast weft then.

Not for napkins was coming through very clearly by this time.  This is the section where I wove turning the weft and warp floats regularly in their A-B blocks as writ.

You may notice that I had a warp-wise (threading) mistake.  The napkins were to be in finer unmercerized cotton (16/2).  I am considering keeping blue weft on white warp but changing to an 8-shaft crackle structure.  Exploring crackle is a definite interest.

For now the loom is closed as I dig-out from storms and continue the Jane Stafford on-line lessons when possible.

Handspun single-strand outer-pull balls of Norwegian wool top dyed by Sheepy Time Knits in wooden tray and Jenkins Delight drop-spindle in Carob wood by irieknit

Four ounces of Norwegian wool top in singles form!

These lessons & outings around town allowed me to finish spinning this other 4 oz of Norwegian top dyed by Mandie of Sheepy Time Knits.  The 5 singles balls will probably be chain-plied like the 1st set was.

We are also up a kid-sized Honey Cowl/ down a braid of Rambouillet wool from the 2018 Woodstock Fibre Festival.  Ty announced that it would go with him to school this morning, “… Because you worked so long on it!”

 

 


1 Comment

Shopping the stash – fall handspun knits

We’re fresh-off our Canadian Thanksgiving, which started a little early with my impulse to bake a cranberry/ blueberry crisp and finished with our first turkey dinner at home.

Yellow tulips on handwoven cotton silk table runner by irieknit

T-kiddo made a good choice on the supermarket cut tulips… they are still fresh & brightening the table runner that I wove in spring 2014, sari silk on 5/2 mercerized cotton warp.

Weaving sari silk cotton table runner by irieknit

The weft is Himalaya Tibet recycled silk, a long-ago gift that could keep giving – the 14″ x 42″ runner used only approx 80 yards.

As weavers can tell from the I Wove This pic a lot of learning was going on at the time.  Up to & including confusion when tying up my treadles for plain weave that worked in my favour.

Our front hall has its 2 handwoven table runners now, and this is the cheery one of the pair.

Cranberry crisp in baking tin by irieknit

Not a long-lasting crisp

Thanksgiving being just this past Monday is hard to believe.  We ran right into an energy audit + furnace replacement job, and handspun yarn has been heavily on my mind!

Handspun happenings

We are at a 4th handspun knit casted-on since mid-September.  That is more than usual & 3 are ready for sharing on TKK.  The quartet has 2 things in common – smaller-scale projects; and all existing stash.  They are a slice of how leaps in spinning can & do become finished objects.

At the centre is this truth – my handspun was not always flowing into queued projects.  This is an almost constant concern in spinning spaces:  how do you use your handspun yarns?  In these 3 projects today the work is a lattice & not linear.

What is not shown here is that I also will design from scratch for my yarns & work from sampling in a straighter course both for knits and handwoven items.  This slice is to show that creativity isn’t always caught in a web of control.  Patience, skill and circling back all can be fruitful.  In order of last to first the 3 new knits are:

Overall lace shawl

This Lacymmetry by Naomi Parkhurst is 1-day into its progress.  It is making me very happy.

Unblocked knitted lace shawl in progress Lacymmetry by irieknit in handspun handdyed BFL/Silk

This BFL/silk yarn is another 2014 story.  In mid-July that year, I used my 127 g of fibre to spin with the newly acquired William MacDonald antique spinning wheel.

Sugar maple tree fall colours in Ontario

Sugar maple cues the shawl this morning

It is 646 yards that I used in a first madder dye experiment later that year.  The burnt orange colour was an improvement but what to use it for?

Until Naomi’s release this week I was fairly stumped.  The suggested yarn is one I know well, Valley Yarns 2/14 alpaca/silk.  My BFL/silk is a pretty good fit, and with that plugged I had to start right away!

Takeaway – you will see curated pattern lists for spinners but keeping eyes forward on new releases lets you find your own gems.  This designer also spins, and that right fit for handspun is an excitement she knows well.

Hold the front page – spindle-spun socks!

Before the shawl answer fell into my lap, I started a new pair of socks this month.  It is with my most viewed spinning project the Pyrenees Delight Cheviot yarn.  The 1,529 views; 26 favorites came after being featured in Ravelry after the 2017 Tour de Fleece.

The 650 yards of 2-ply is not that old at a January 2018 finish.  It was a puzzle though… would I split to get the socks I had dreamed about while spinning or should I use all in a weaving project?  Here’s my current answer & sock knitting guide.

Starting to knit handspun Strie sock in Pyrenees Delight Cheviot by irieknit

When I dive into the handspun stash it is a mess of pulling yarns & looking back at the records.  This month I was weighing sock, colourwork mittens or sweater.  Measurements help but as a starting point.  This is part of the note I made when looking at possible mittens:

Thicker than idea in Drachunas (The Art of Lithuanian Knitting, 2015 with June Hall)

Will they look good?

When swatching the Cheviot, I knitted lots and measured twice.  The 2.25 mm needle gave a good fabric, 9 stitches per 1″ in stockinette around.  The guide is Lara Neel’s excellent “Sock Architecture, 2014.  I chose her Strie for its garter rib pattern with my lighter 2-ply.

Strie sock in progress by irieknit in handspun 2-ply Cheviot yarn

It is going well up to the heel now.  This z-plied yarn is untwisting a bit as I work & I may cross the foot stitches for firmness.

Takeaway – As one who has more socks than she needs, I will just quote Jan Viren (Handspun Treasures from Rare Wools, ed Deborah Robson, 2000, p. 77):

If you want boring, predictable socks, there are plenty available through standard outlets. These [California Variegated Mutant] have character…

The Handspun Treasures book has a highly entertaining & inspiring juried group of handspun projects.  I snagged my copy on a trip to the Strand bookstore in NYC.

Headwarming in fall

This Calorimetry headband in Targhee was a 2-day knit of joy.

Handspun Targhee Calorimetry headband by irieknit

In this second selfie view you can see the hint of its Corgi Hill Farm gradient, Inverness, properly.

Handspun Targhee Calorimetry headband by irieknit top

Using a single clay button, I have a 21″ long Calorimetry.  It is my 2nd version in handspun.  Working 1×1 ribbing helped cinching in areas with thinner yarn.

Spinning handdyed Targhee on Rappard Wee Peggy spinning wheel by irieknit

2015 Wee Peggy spin-along

This was from a 2015 fall spinalong in the Wee Peggy spinners group on Ravelry that went fairly quickly.  The blues went to N as a pair of plain mittens this winter.

Handspun Targhee men's mittens by irieknit

Made, used but not blogged – N’s mittens

The pattern guide was Knit Mitts by Kate Atherley, 2017 & used approx 170 yards of the blue.

Handspun Targhee wool yarn by irieknit from Inverness colourway dyed by Corgi Hill Farm

This is what I kept around since February waiting for inspiration.  It wanted to be a headband!  The orange is still on the couch waiting for the hat-trick.

Takeaway – gradients are not set in stone.  The 390 yards has made 2 people happy so far, and I am not sore about giving half to N for mittens.

Plying merino/silk lace yarn on an Andean low-whorl pushka spindle by irieknit

Last plying of a long merino/silk spin

As I am this close to finishing my 4 ounces of merino/silk with this medium Andean pushka, I have thought of a lace shawl.  Which lace shawl will depend on my bandwidth & how much yarn we have here.

There surely are spinners who in Beverley Horne’s words never ever sit with fibre to spin (Fleece in Your Hands – spinning with a purpose: notes and projects, 1979 U.S revised edition, p v):

… without having planned beforehand what you are going to do with the yarn.

Knowing how to do forward planning is important, I agree.  If like me ‘what ifs’, new tools, techniques beckon & good yarn results then you can still move forward.  Sometimes frustration kicks in, of course.  More often you go in a latticework of time spent on the project instead of the good old bossy line.

A side benefit has been letting new skills like weaving catch-up to those good yarns that I still love to spin.

Just think of it as a long run up to the crease (cricket term & to mix metaphors oops)!

 

 


2 Comments

Plumage, a juried exhibition

In a month already full with home renovation work & gardening, I have been bowled over by the positive response that my two pieces received in the Burlington Handweavers & Spinners Guild 2014 exhibit at the (then-called) Burlington Art Centre.

The Juror, Sheila Perry, selected 20 pieces from 16 fibre artists for the Exhibit.  Each artist’s interpretation of the theme was different but the presentation was balanced and cohesive in the space.

 

Knitted lace shawl in handspun Muga silk: On Eagle's Wings

Best in Show award!

My goal was simple:  to be selected for inclusion!  Everything else was pretty unexpected even after I heard that I was 1 of 4 members chosen for awards.  The exhibition was May 4 – June 1, 2014.

Elation not being optimal for bloggy work, I enjoyed the moment and juggled house upheaval vs. garden upheaval.   The creative breaks poured towards a fantastic, challenging lace weaving workshop with Jette Vandermeiden at the guild.  Jette was good enough to attend the opening reception with us too, so it was all rolled into one!

With the shawls back home now, I have worn the Muga silk for the first time.  It is so very light on the shoulders yet warm – everything that I imagined it would be.

2014 Annual Juried Exhibition best in show handspun knit lace shawl in Muga silk - On Eagle's Wings

On Eagle’s Wings, displayed

On Eagle’s Wings was introduced to the right of the gallery entrance.  You can see the guest book, and the exhibit catalogue on the table in the corner.  Not shown in this picture was that heady award label with my name on it!

This black fabric-covered dress form was very good for showing the triangle’s drape, and the stitch patterns with beads.  It would have been straightforward for the audience to read this lace as a textile with real-world function.  You know, as opposed to froth.

Plumage Juried Show, On Eagle's Wings, back of triangle shawl

All along, I had worried that my Tibetan Phoenix Beaded Stole would be a problem child in this gallery.  It took my breath away to see the Juror’s solution for its 82″ expanse.

Entering the Plumage 2014 juried exhibition, Burlington Handweavers and Spinners Guild

The knitted lace stole, among friends

This brought home to me the difference between showing lace in blog form (pattern; movement; technical aspects; natural light) and showing lace for its effect.  The impact of the presentation was something that I literally felt.

Tibetan Beaded Lace Shawl handspun and knit by Irieknit in Plumage Exhibition, Burlington, Ontario

A warm welcome, for me at least!

Hearing excitement and new ways of understanding this making of an oversize lace object is an unexpected joy.  It draws away any residual sting from wearing it to a New England wedding last fall.  As I type, a dear relative who helped host that very wedding is congratulating me on my new accomplishment in knitting!

Tibetan Phoenix Beaded Lace Shawl handspun and knit by Irieknit in Plumage Juried Exhibition, Burlington, Ontario

Guild members have been super kind.  Yes, all made on drop spindles!  Professional fibre artists also tell me that the stole in particular was a strong submission.

Presenting work publicly is tough.  I heard that during the exchange at the end of the Juror’s review.  Now I have experienced the rewards of this rigour, and am totally glad that I tried.  Being able to say, “Dear (non-fibre person in my life), I got an award.  It was from an art gallery director, and came with a cheque,” also rocks.  It makes way more sense to them than the 82″ of shawl over my petite LBD ever could.  That’s just life.

Some but not all of the other works from Plumage are below. Let me know if you caught the show!

Plumage 2014 Juried Burlington Handweavers and Spinners Show Margaret Burns handwoven soft sculptures

Handwoven ‘Duck’ and ‘Owl’, Margaret Burns

Best Interpretation of Theme was awarded for this stunning red handwoven shawl.

Best Interpretation of Theme, Plumage 2014 Juried Show Burlington Handweavers and Spinners Guild

Cardinal in Flight, Rosemarie Anich-Erickson

Three works by Diane Woods were included in this show.  I love the sharpness, and colour in her wall hanging.

Handwoven wall hanging, Mexican Eagle in Plumage 2014 Juried Exhibition Burlington Handweavers and Spinners

Mexican Eagle, Diane Woods

One of my teachers, MargaretJane Wallace, inspired me as she wove her scarf in the studio this fall.  MJ also encouraged me to go ahead with my plans for the Muga silk when it was still a ball of lace yarn.

Handwoven beaded tencel scarf by MargaretJane Wallace, Phoenix Rising from Ash 2014 Juried Exhibition Burlington Handweavers and Spinners Guild

Phoenix Rising from Ash, handdyed tencel, MargaretJane Wallace

Hung to the left of MJ’s scarf was the winner of the Past Presidents’ Award.  The weaver is a Level 4 student, and the Juror was very excited about this lovely piece!

Award winning handwoven scarf, Snowy Owl 2014 Juried Exhibition  Burlington Handweavers and Spinners

Snowy Owl, Leslie Cooke-Bithrey

These and other images of  works included in the Plumage show are here.


4 Comments

Submitted with fingers crossed – first Juried Show

Triangle shawl in handspun Muga silk and Japanese seed beads original design

Just a glimpse, Muga silk lace

This week was the take-in of pieces for the Burlington Handweavers & Spinners Guild‘s bi-annual juried show, “Plumage.”  I have submitted this original design beaded triangle shawl, knitted in my handspun 2-ply Muga silk.  It is lightly beaded with Japanese Miyuki 8/0 seed beads.

Without a doubt this was my most challenging design work to date.  After submitting on Wednesday afternoon, I realized that I really would be happy to publish this as a pattern.  My charting and notes are long-hand at the moment but I sense that this piece is not finished stretching my abilities just yet.  What grounds this idea is the fact that months ago I signed-up to take Kate Atherley’s class on pattern writing at the Toronto Knitter’s Frolic, which is tomorrow morning!

In holding back while I work through the impulse let me just share the first part of my write-up for the shawl’s submission:

The gold-brown natural Muga colour evokes the Golden Eagle.  Muga silkworms are semi-domesticated in Assam, N.E. India.  The spinning fibre is rarely available, and is prepared after the cocoons are reeled for weaving from the waste and breeder cocoons.  The fibre is finer than Tussah silk, and I spun it for a balanced laceweight yarn with the organic texture.  It is highly durable silk, spun to enhance its shine…

Learning more about Muga silk culture for this entry form writing exercise was so exciting.  Several sites stated that woven Muga textiles increase in shine with each wash, and that the fibre is also traditionally used for embroidery.  I also learned that Muga silk saris are handwoven in the home by women of all backgrounds, and are passed down as heirlooms in Assamese families.  Guess who is totally intrigued?!

Muga silk handspun lace yarn on antique Canadian niddy noddy

As it then was, Muga silk on my antique niddy noddy

I also submitted my Tibetan Clouds handspun stole that was completed in the fall.  The large (i.e. huge on me) size and Sivia Harding’s design for Tibetan Buddhist art elements both evoked the mythic bird, Garuda.  He is the king of birds, and represents widsom and openness.  See how it works in this context?

Handspun Tibetan Clouds beaded stole for 2014 juried show, Plumage

Tibetan Clouds stole as the king of the birds

The show’s Juror may not get the demonstration but it’s lurking here in my blog out-takes!

Handspun Tibetan Clouds beaded stole wrap

This stole has a wider wingspan than I do.  Like Garuda who can stretch his wings and soar into space.

Tibetan Clouds handspun beaded lace stole, submitted for 2014 juried show Plumage

Wearing Tibetan Clouds stole

This kind of enveloping warmth in 100% handspun yarn is reminiscent of a bird’s plumage.  Granted, it may be hard to hang and display.

On tenterhooks

For a fairly quiet spinner like me the suspense between now and the Juror’s review on May 5th will be uhm, difficult.  The push to complete the Muga silk shawl has left me in between projects, and with sore wrists.

Alpaca handspun yarn on vintage Andean low whorl drop spindle

Sweet respite spinning

In this state, yesterday I reached for a spindle that I have not yet shared with you.  It is a vintage low-whorl carved wood spindle from the Andean highlands.  It’s perfect for this rustic Alpaca roving that I had in my stash.

Vintage Andean low whorl drop spindle with Alpaca handspun yarn

Andean spindle, patina in spades

This was a Christmas present.  It has taken me awhile to both respectfully clear the spindle of the handspun yarn that came with it, and get accustomed to spinning with a notched shaft.

Handspun plying ball of alpaca with vintage Andean carved low-whorl drop spindle

Vintage Andean spindle as it came to me – with handspun alpaca

The other exciting item that came with the spindle was this tool for backstrap weaving, a Ruki.  It is the traditional llama bone beater of the weavers in the Andean highlands.

Ruki llama bone weaving beater, Andean highlands artifact

A ruki beater for weaving

The spindle and ruki are both smoothed after years of use.  It’s just the sort of thing you reach for when the tenterhooks they bite.


2 Comments

An Irieknit Design

My commissioned lace stole is overdue for her reveal!  What began as a serious inquiry last Boxing Day on broad specs grew into an original stole design with beautiful Helen’s Lace yarn and light beading.

Although knitting for hire was a bundle of new challenges, I knew early on that my label as it were would be Irieknit.  This is, after all, the way that many of you know me as a spinner & knitter on both Ravelry and Twitter[.com].  My ‘irie‘ designation dates back to birth.  In full-flush of First Time Dad excitement, I was announced to the world (via a Gleaner classified ad) in all caps as born that day “one IRIE GEMINI…”

Then as now, some got it; others not so much.

‘Sea Grapes’ knitted lace stole

The colourway of this 50% silk/ 50% wool yarn is Berry.  The stole used 950 yards or 85g of the yarn with the body and border knit with different sized needles.

Body detail, ‘Sea Grapes’ knitted lace stole

The centre is the Melon pattern from Victorian Lace Today with repeats added to the panel.  Thinking of my Jamaican client as I knit lent the motif a decidedly Caribbean feel.  One thought led to another and soon I had a doubly-wide border of soft waves.  The VLT techniques pages were very empowering.  They helped kick me up a notch to lace design.

The client’s wide brief is what also allowed me to go farther.  Following my muse often takes me back to poetry.  This 27″ x 88″ stole is named Sea Grapes after Derek Walcott’s 1976 poem:

…for the sea-wanderer or the one on shore

now wriggling on his sandals to walk home,

since Troy sighed its last flame…

The classics can console.  But not enough.

People often ask, “How long does it take to knit that?”  In this case, I have an answer based on a focused lace knit.  The knitting time was 30 hours for the body; 17 hours for the border.  It was made over 17 days.  This does not include 2 hours for blocking or added prep time & design work.

On the blocking mats, ‘Sea Grapes’ knit lace stole

Producing knitted lace of this scale for hire changed my work days, and lifted my game.  In the end, I was happy to deliver an item that can not and does not exist elsewhere.  It came as much from our relationship of many years as from my skills, time and materials.  We are both happy.

Supporting handmade matters.  I’ll be happy to collaborate again in the future.


Leave a comment

Tibetan Clouds Shawl, Interpreted

As they rode eastward along the water’s edge, they watched birds foraging and playing.  A few thin clouds were scudding in the pure blue sky and swooping birds united the heavens and the earth.

Sky Burial: an Epic Love Story of Tibet” by Xinran, p. 146

This Sivia Harding design, the “Tibetan Clouds Beaded Stole” has drawn my lace knitting up a level.  No matter how many times, I saw the word “Experienced” on p. 173 of “The Knitter’s Book of Wool,” I kept leafing back to the chart, and thinking what really boil down to being covetous thoughts.  The best designs do that kind of self-promotion under your skin.  You have to, and the skills will come because you had to, right?  

The shawl is constructed from the middle with 4 triangular repeats around to form a lace counterpane.  In the design’s introduction we are told that the centre evokes the mandala motif of Tibetan Buddist art.  

 My stole includes the beads as written in the pattern but I used Japanese Toho size 8/0 seed beads for my finer laceweight yarn.  The centre beads are purple, and the wing panel beads are orange.  Instead of making purl bobbles at row 45 of that centre section (Chart A), I knitted in orange beads.  

The yarn is my handspun from a single braid of Yarn Hollow top.  Sivia Harding chose a worsted-spun fingering-weight yarn that is an even blend of merino and silk.  My yarn is lighter, and has slight halo from the 50% alpaca; 30% merino; 20% tussah silk.  

There was variation in my spinning.  How could there not be?  I made 979.6 yards over 6 skeins.  The singles were spun first, wound into plying balls, and plied together.  This part of the project – all on spindles – ran between May 1, 2012 and October 25, 2012.  

Fibre as it was in the 2012 Tour de Fleece

The method to my madness in spinning a 3,919 yards per pound large project is to isolate colour.  I unbraided a length at a time, and alternated spindles.  With an eye to the colour shifts, I was able to build shades from the dyed top.  The ochre sections have warmer tinges of pink, and vice versa through to my favourite mostly-solid purple at the centre of the shawl.  The little that barber-poled came up in either the panel transitions or on the edge.

The shawl is wider than I am tall.  With draping and a measure of chutzpah, I wore it to my cousin’s wedding last Saturday with a black dress.  It came into its own as the day cooled into a Boston September evening reception on a windy patio.  Others shivered, and the Cousin Who Knits did not.  

My philosophy is simple – if I am too shy to wear this at a formal wedding then what’s the point?  My knits are here to live in the real world.  The hours of making deserve that much.  As I tweeted:  Self-esteem, thy name is handspun knitted lace.  

You wrap a large stole thusly

This is my first knit made entirely from spindle-spun yarn.  It was an intentional project.  It went on my needles February 24, 2013 and was completed in early September 2013 with a few months’ break for other knitting.

A side panel, detail

The side panels of this stole were the difficult part for me.  The shifting of the lace felt like architecture, and took both focus and time.  I knit while listening to Neal Stephenson’s The Baroque Cycle on Audible.  Daniel Waterhouse had a hand in this too, I think.

Why I spin

 America Knits includes this Selma Miriam quote on p. 50.  I not only love it but her design the handspun, “Kousa Dogwood Shawl” inspired me towards both spinning, and lace counterpanes.  

When people ask about the time needed to produce a handmade object, it means that they do not see that it is the act of making it which provides the “grounding,” the stitch after stitch that are individual moments of possibility.

I sometimes get lost in the spinning of yarn.  There really is nothing quite like working with your own for-better-or-worse unique yarn.  Each skein was a new exploration in lace making, and the alpaca/merino/silk blend is just fantastic.